Everything that I’ve been listening to from this year has seemed so uninteresting so far that I jumped at the chance to start listening to something more experimental when I ran across Jute Gyte’s new album. Jute Gyte is the moniker of Adam Kalmbach, a one-man avant black metal project (I just made that label up, so I’m not sure if he’d agree with it).
One of the most interesting ways to use dissonance is for comic effect. When dissonance is used in sudden and unexpected ways (as opposed to just a really dissonant piece) the surprise can be funny. There is nothing funny about this album, but I found myself laughing the first time through for the above reason. Some of the tonal, microtonal, and chromatic parts are just so unexpected, sudden, and original that the shock initially made me laugh.
In fact, it sounded as if someone was just making the most random, disjointed stuff they could think of for the sole purpose of being different. I was about to write it off as pretentious nonsense (I mean the first track is called “Semen Dried into the Silence of Rocks and Minerals” …), but decided to give it a second listen anyway.
Already on the second listen, the internal logic of the songs started to get revealed. The songs no longer sounded random at all. I couldn’t pinpoint anything concrete about them to say what this logic was, but I started to intuit a lot of structure and repetition that was grounding my listening experience.
This fascinated me, so I started listening to it more and more. As I figured out what was going on, I learned that these songs are composed out of some really concrete ideas that just get embellished in some strange ways. These songs are so out there that I had that initial reaction, but Jute Gyte gets this type of experimentation right in a way I’m not sure I’ve heard before.
He keeps the underlying concept of the song really solid so that the listener has something to grab on to. Although it is hard to say exactly what this is in many of the songs, after three listens I could probably have listened to a random few second clip from a song and identified which track it came from. This is because the ideas had seeped in somehow.
I also have to applaud his use of microtones. I’ve heard this type of use in classical experimental music, but most metal bands that venture into microtonality just use them in pretty uninteresting ways. Here he really treats all 24 notes as separate notes instead of just out-of-tune extensions of the standard 12 notes. He uses them in chordal structures, melodic constructions, and inside of arpeggio patterns.
Instead of using these extra notes for occasional effect, he is using them more as a true 24 note scale, and once you get used to it this isn’t as weird as you might expect. It starts to sound pretty natural in the context in which he uses them.
This album strikes a great balance that I really admire. It has enough experimental elements and just plain unexpected things that I find it really interesting and different to listen to. It has served as nice way to break me out of the funk of everything sounding the same. But it balances these elements with a good amount emotion and intensity coming from building up these underlying structures.
Overall, I really like this album and give it an 8.5/10. My list of albums for the year is already up to 12, and this is almost certainly my favorite so far. Here’s a sample: